Ever been on a long, tiring journey and wished the car could just drive there itself? Well, self-driving vehicles are here and it is no longer a question of “if” but “when” this technology will become part of our lives. Human drivers often do not react fast enough to avoid collisions and their judgement can be impaired; while self-driving technology is programmed for constant vigilance, making for a safer journey. Autonomous vehicles keep track of traffic flow and are able to speed up travel time by intelligently avoiding congested routes.

Automated vehicles have many useful applications in a wide variety of industries but there many reasons to suggest that the logistics may be one of the first to embrace this new technology.

Within the Warehouse

Self-driving technology is particularly ideal for set environments such as within warehouses and already these vehicles are being used to move products within the warehouse. However many of these vehicles stop when faced with an obstacle in their path and won’t move again without intervention. They also limited to following a predefined route. To overcome these challenges there is a move toward the use of cameras and lasers that keep constant track of the environment with 360˚ scans to create a 3D map for navigation. These next generation self-driving vehicles have more flexible navigation enabling a larger range of applications:

    • Autonomous Loading

Now self-driving vehicles have the capability not just to transport stock but to perform additional tasks as well such as loading and unloading. The use of these vehicles is having a huge impact on overall efficiency and improving safety within the warehouse.

    • Assisted picking

Manual order picking carts can become very heavy and transportation between drop-off locations is time-consuming. An assisted picking cart has the capability to follow the picker as they move through the racks and before the cart is fully loaded the picker can simply send it to the next location. At the same time another replacement cart can be sent to the picker for an uninterrupted, more efficient process.

In the Yard

The yard is a dangerous environment with heavy vehicles such as forklifts and trucks maneuvering within a tight space. Self-driving vehicles could make for a safer, more effective solution through the use of sensors located in the yard area which assist the vehicles to detect objects and change their direction accordingly.

Out on the Road

Line haul transportation always carries the risk of accidents, even for the most experienced drivers. Current driver assist technology can help drivers react faster to impending danger and calculate the safest route. Further advancements are being made to allow for the majority of the journey to be automated, giving the driver time to rest, and, looking ahead we can expect to see completely self-driven trucks.

As improvements are made and current hurdles are overcome, there is no doubt that self-driving vehicles will revolutionise the world of logistics.

Read on for more articles on logistics trends.